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The Big Chill – Cold Battery
Baby it’s cold outside – and your car probably doesn’t like it. If your car is even more sluggish than you in the morning, it could well be down to the weather. And one of the biggest haters of the cold is your battery. Here is how, why, and what you can do.
There is no getting around the fact that batteries hate cold weather. When the battery is cold, the chemical process that stores power is inhibited. This means that your battery stores less power, and its ability to hold that power is affected. But the battery’s ability to harvest and store power is not the only issue. Your battery tops up on power once the engine is going. So, if you are driving in the cold, rain or snow and you have your heater, demister and/or windscreen wipers on, the battery could be supplying your car with more energy than it is collecting, which could result in a flat battery.
Addressing the problem
If you can’t start your car, it is likely to be the battery if:
- It makes a faint whirring noise, but the starter motor fails to turn over.
- The lights on your console or interior car lights don’t come on like they usually do.
- The car completely fails to unlock via central locking.
If there is some life in your battery (i.e. the car does unlock, the lights do come on), you may be able to jump start your car. However, if the battery is completely flat, you will probably need to call a recovery service.
Protect your battery
The wisest course of action is to take measures to prevent your battery from going flat. And, with modern cars relying more and more heavily on electrical components, from central locking to keyless ignitions, it is more important than ever that you take care of your battery. If you don’t use your car often, or if you generally use it for short trips, your battery’s power store can deplete quickly, particularly if it is more than three years old.
This won’t help if your battery is very old, but the following can help you to conserve energy:
- Switch off your lights, wipers, heaters and radio before you turn your engine off, and double check that everything is switched off before you turn the engine on. This will mean that it will take less energy to start the car next time.
- Keep an eye on your battery and look for corrosion in the cables or clamp.
- If possible, avoid using the radio, heaters and demisters for longer than necessary on short journeys.
- Make sure that all of your lights, including interior lights, are left off.
If you are concerned about your battery’s power, pop into a local garage; it will take a couple of minutes to see how efficient your battery is, and if needed your mechanic might be able to charge it for you or recommend a new one.